Welcome to this month’s First Friday Fiction. I wrote this story from a writing prompt on putting your character in an uncomfortable situation. It’s a bit different than my usual writing, but I hope you enjoy it.
Kate Corbett kept both hands firmly on the steering wheel of her little Corolla. She hated parking on the street. She preferred to be out of sight, but didn’t want to block access for the two cars already parked in the driveway.
There was nothing ominous or sinister about the two-story house—quite the contrary. The manicured lawn, neatly trimmed shrubbery, and white shuttered windows presented a warm and inviting look. Yet Kate couldn’t be more frightened in a room full of ghosts. She knew what went on behind those doors.
I don’t belong here. It’s not too late to leave…
NO! I have to go through with this.
She thought back to the conversation that led her to this house. Her friend and co-worker, Lauren, asked her to join the company softball team.
“I’m not real good at sports.”
“Who cares? It’s all for fun. Kate, you never do anything out of the ordinary. Know what your problem is? You’re afraid to fly.”
“That’s not true! I love flying.”
“I’m not referring to airplanes. I’m talking about taking risks. For once in your life do something daring. Think of something you’ve always dreamed of and forget the consequences.”
Kate sighed, got out of the car, and walked to the front door. She pressed the doorbell. After what seemed like an eternity, she heard a voice from inside.
“I’ll get it, Maria. I can’t imagine who would be ringing the front bell. I’m not expecting anyone for a while.”
Kate glanced at her watch–astonished to discover she was thirty minutes early.
The door opened and a woman stood before Kate, her brows creased in a frown. “May I help you?”
Kate bit her lower lip. “I’m Kate…Corbett.”
“Please come in. I’m Monique Picard.”
Kate took a deep breath, exhaled, and stepped inside.
“I wasn’t expecting you until five.”
“I’m sorry I’m early.”
“Better than being late. I’m a stickler for punctuality.” She escorted Kate into the living room and pointed to a sofa. “Please, sit there. I’m with a client, but will have Maria bring you something to drink.” Before Kate could refuse, Monique left the room.
Kate looked at the expensive furnishings. Monique had exquisite tastes. She turned to see a middle-aged Hispanic woman standing at the door. “Something to drink, Senorita?”
Her throat was dry, but she dared not drink anything for fear of spilling something.
As if reading her mind, the woman smiled. “I have iced tea in the kitchen. It’s cozier in there.”
Kate followed her into a light, airy kitchen. Sounds of Ravel’s Bolero came from behind the closed doors of a room opposite the kitchen. “You must be Maria.”
“Si,” she said. Maria handed her the iced tea and went about her chores as if Kate wasn’t present.
When the music stopped, a middle-aged man in a dark business suit exited the closed-door room, straightening his tie. He nodded at Kate, exited through the side door, and drove away in a dark blue Mercedes.
A few minutes later, a teenage girl emerged. She paused in front of a mirror in the hallway, applied some lipstick, and combed her long blond hair. Kate watched her exit through the kitchen and climb into a Mustang convertible.
What am I doing here?
Monique entered the room. “Ah, there you are. I see Maria has made you comfortable.”
Kate’s queasy stomach said otherwise. “Look, maybe I’m not cut out for this.” Thinking of the teenager, she said. “I mean, maybe I’m too old.”
“Nonsense,” Monique said. “You are an attractive young woman.” She took Kate’s hands and examined her fingers. “Yes, you’ll do fine. By the way, next time park in the driveway and use the side entrance. It’s more private.”
A year later, Kate sat in an unfamiliar place. She looked at people next to her—Melinda, the blond teenager, Monique Picard, and the man who drove the Mercedes among them. Richard Campbell was a business executive and pianist for the local symphony orchestra. He was here to perform a duet of Bolero with his daughter, Melinda.
Monique stood and walked to the center of the stage to address the audience. “Our first performer tonight is my newest student, Kate Corbett. She will play a rendition of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy.
Kate stood, trying to calm her shaking knees. She sat down at the baby grand piano and began to play. After a couple of bars, she relaxed and let her fingers glide across the keys. She had done it. She took the risk and fulfilled a dream.
By the end of the song, she soared—no longer afraid to fly.